EU Finds Compromise to Extend Tariff-Free Trade for Ukraine

(Bloomberg) -- European Union member states struck a hard-fought compromise Wednesday to extend tariff-free trade for Ukraine for another year as farmers across the bloc have been protesting food imports from the war-torn nation.

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The agreement reached by the bloc’s ambassadors comes on the back of a provisional deal with the European Parliament last week that proposed reinstating tariffs on some food imports from Ukraine in the case of oversupply.

The compromise deal would extend the reference period for the import volumes back to the second half of 2021, before Russia’s invasion, according to people familiar with the decision. The latest proposal doesn’t include potential restrictions on wheat, despite demands from France, Poland and Hungary.

The extension of the so-called Autonomous Trade Measures, which still has to be approved by the European Parliament, would allow Kyiv to retain almost unfettered access to the EU market past the current expiration date of June 5.

Member states generally supported an extension, but some pushed for the EU’s executive arm to provide safeguards on products such as corn, poultry, sugar and eggs if imports exceed previous volumes.

Extending the free trade measures were at the center of some of the farmer protests across Europe in recent weeks, including most recently in Poland and Belgium, along with rising production costs and administrative burdens.

Ukraine’s Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi said Monday in Brussels that the grain debate is more political and less of a trade issue.

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